Rise of the Tellers 16: Eldest

Christmas 2005 and me and Bekah have opened all of our presents before going to her parents’ house and we look around the house. We look at the tree. We look at each other and we can feel it. There is a gaping hole here. Something is missing from our lives.

Someone.

Not long after, Bekah’s on the phone with her mom. We’ve decided to have a baby, and we’re both so excited. Hymnal’s words are words of caution. “You don’t want to get pregnant. Wait for at least a year.” Bekah can’t understand what her mom is thinking until her mom says, “What happens when he leaves? Have you thought about what it’s going to be like to be a single mother?”

We go to her parents’ house for the holiday. It’s laughing and hugging. It’s presents and good food. We stay for about four days, talking to everyone about our new decision. On the final day, I packed the car and we come to say our goodbyes. Hymnal has just laid down to take a nap. She’s half asleep. She’s medicated. All of her filters have been taken away. Bekah says goodbye, tells her mother she loves her, heads for the car. I pat Hymnal on the back. “Next time you see your daughter, she’ll be pregnant.”

“Why does it have to be you?” Hymnal says.

I don’t remember what it felt like to hear those words from that woman after having said what I said. Some alter took the blow. It was probably Shade. He’s never talked about the emotional impact. But I knew then that it wasn’t over. None of it was over. Whoever it was patted her on the back, told her he loved her, and left the room.

In late January it was official and I went to Steven.

“I’m going to be a father,” I said.

“Congratulations.”

“What if I am a bad father? What if I am not supposed to be a father?”

“You’re going to be a great father,” he said.

“How can you be so sure?” I said.

“Because I raised you,” Steven said. And he had. We had torn off every scrap of teaching that had come from either side of my family. We had examined it and we had decided if it was healthy or not. We had cleaned it up if it was and reapplied it to my life. If it was unhealthy, we had tossed it out and looked at how to replace it. He had undone every bit of mess that my family had made of me and now I stood before him clean and ready.

We went to the hospital to visit some friends we had met in baby class. Their little girl had just been born and when we got in the elevator to go home Bekah’s contractions began.

They went strong for hours and we called our doula and she rushed to our side. We stayed at the house for a few more hours until the doula told us it was time and we headed for the hospital.

For those of you who do not know what a doula is I will spell it out for you very simply. They are a godsend. They are angels straight out of heaven sent to save the sanity of a birthing mother.

A doula is a birthing coach. They know child birth inside and out and they have been at over a hundred births by the time they get their certification. They know all of the little things that the parents are never told. They can talk to the doctor about technicalities and explain it all to the parents. They know the best positions to put the mother in while she is in labor and they know exactly where to massage at what points in the process. We hired a doula. I am not even going to change her name. She deserves to get the credit for what she did. Her name was Sheryl and we would not have made it without her.

She was infuriated when, on the way to the hospital, we stopped at Taco Bell to hit the drive thru. She stomped up to the car to yell at us and tell us we needed to get moving and we asked her if she wanted anything while we were getting dinner. She stomped back and patiently waited for us to get our food. Then we drove to the hospital.

No one tells us what to do. We are warthogs.

When we got there, there was a lot of waiting. The labor was going slowly and not progressing as well as they wanted it to. Bekah was committed to a natural birth and so we waited. She was in labor for eighteen hours before they gave her an epidural and set her to rest.

Rayph was not close and she was suffering. We settled in for a wait and Sheryl started to massage.

She got water.

She talked and hummed to Bekah.

She massaged some more.

Bekah slept as her body contracted and while she slept Sheryl massaged.

Twenty-four hours into labor Rayph was not close and the alters were getting worried.

The nurse would come in every hour, check the dilation and tell us we had moved very little. They would ask if we want to do a C-Section but Bekah was committed to a vaginal birth so we sent them away every time.

When we hit the thirty-hour mark Guardian lost his cool for one complete second. The nurse told us that in that hour we had not dilated at all and Guardian leapt to his feet and looked at her and snapped out, “Do your damn job and help my wife!”

He sat down instantly and apologized.

When at the thirty-seventh hour of labor they told us it was time to start pushing I went crazy.

I lost track of myself and I was suddenly at many different parts of the room at once. I looked around to see Guardian standing beside Bekah. Shade was holding her other hand. Shadow was sitting in the corner of the room rocking back and forth and crying.

Child wept.

Lenore was giggling. The one they had once called Zombie was giggling and hopping up and down.

Servant was praying in the corner on his knees.

Assassin stood close to the nurse with a blade in his hand.

I looked around the room and I looked at Bekah and I groaned as I looked up and ripped the ceiling and roof off of the room. I brought rain, a cool soothing rain that pattered on everything and everyone. The room began to glow and with a wave of my hand the glowing room began to pulsate with the sound of the heart monitor. The linoleum floor I kissed and grass lifted in a wave. I heard laughing and the one who follows me everywhere was behind me.

I looked at her and she peaked out at me from her green hair with her pink eyes and she smiled her thick-lipped smile. Her wings fluttered in the air too small to support her fattened belly, but what cause do we have for sense and physics where we live?

“She is beautiful,” my fellow traveler said looking at Bekah. “Will she be okay, I wonder?”

“She will be fine,” I said. “She is more powerful than me. She is more beautiful than you and my wife does not know how to fail.

“What will he look like?” I asked my follower and she giggled.

“He will look like his father,” she said. She always knows things like this.

“He will look like me?”

“No, you fool, God no, he will look like his father. He will look like Assassin. He will have the temperament of Guardian. He will know the ability and calm of Shade and he will love like only your woman can.” My green wanderer laughed when she smiled at me and said, “Want to stay and watch?”

“I have to,” I said. “I am transfixed.”

“Bewitched,” she said.

“Same thing.”

When the pushing began to get tough it was unsettling how unprepared the staff was.

“And push, one, two, three, you’re doing so good. You’re doing so well, keep going. Keep pushing.”

And Bekah was getting agitated. Shade could sense it. He could tell something was wrong. But he didn’t know what it was until on the next push they did it again.

“And push, one, two, three, four, you’re doing so good, you’re amazing, keep pushing and keep pushing. And stop.”

Bekah was frazzled. She was shaking her head.

When the push came again it was the same. “One, two, three, four, good job. You’re doing great—”

“Someone has to keep counting!” she screamed.

Shade looked around. He searched for the perfect person and he gave him the nod.

It was Guardian’s authoritative voice that lifted, “Eight, nine, ten, you’re done.” This was a voice for battlefields. This was a voice hard as stone. A voice people listened to. When the next push came Guardian began to count like he was taking count of the soldiers he would take to war with him.

His strong, steady voice calmed Bekah, gave her precision. Gave her focus. He barked out her count to her and she did everything in the world.

He was born.

He had come. The one I swore I would never meet was in our world. He was taken off to the nursery and Bekah looked at me.

“Go home,” she said.

“I’m not leaving this building,” Guardian said. “I am here with you until we take that baby home.”

“Shade,” she said.

Shade stepped forward and took her hand. “Love?”

“Go home. Get some sleep. You can’t do anything here. I am going to go to bed. They are not bringing him back for a while. You have no reason to stay.”

“I have every reason to stay,” he said kissing her.

“You need to go home. Sleep in our bed and come back when you have had at least eight hours of sleep,” she said.

Shade nodded. He kissed her again. He waited until they had given her a sleep aid. Then as she drifted off, he walked away having not held his baby once.

He stopped to talk to K and Patron on his way out. They had come down to witness the birth of their new great grandchild twenty-two hours before. They had brought a bag full of McDonald’s for me at the time and I hadn’t realized I was starving. I had eaten two big macs, three large fries, and three apple pies.

I told them the baby was born. I gave his stats, mind bogglingly big, and I told them Bekah had been in labor for thirty-seven and a half hours. We walked to the window of the nursery and they laid him out for us.

K looked at him and cooed. “Look at those fingers. You can tell that is a Lynch baby.”

Assassin stepped forward instantly. “That is a Teller baby,” he stated.

K threw her hands up. “You’re right. It’s a Teller, of course it’s a Teller, what else could it be?” We all laughed.

Assassin walked away steaming. But he is almost always angry.

We came back seven hours later and Bekah was eating. When she saw us, she burst into tears.

“I sent you away before you got to hold him.” She sobbed and I knew her emotions were running so hot. Lenore started to suck the emotion out of the room, pulling back all the unneeded energy that would overwhelm Bekah and leaving the room calmer and better balanced.

Shade went to Bekah’s side.

“It’s alright. I knew that after such a hard birth they would take him for a long time. I knew we had moments to hold him and I wanted you to get that honor. So, I waited. I’m here now and Guardian wants to see his son.”

She squeezed Shade’s hand. “You first,” she said.

The first time he was placed in our arms the room burst into light. The swell of the instruments of the bridge warmed and as the frogs and the crickets played for the Leviathan and her man, Shade stared down at the majesty of his eldest born.

We were all nervous except Assassin.

None of us were prepared except Guardian.

None of us had a plan except Shade.

Everyone was overwhelmed except Shadow.

All of us were at the point of tears except Lenore.

All of us were scared except Smilin’ Jack.

None of us knew what to do next except Servant.

We were all lost. Everyone knew exactly what they were doing.

Days and Hymnal and Vigil are at our house. They are staying for a while and they have Shadow in his living room.

“That birth was insane,” Shadow said. “Bekah is a badass.”

“Watch your mouth, the baby is right there,” Hymnal snapped.

“That is bullshit,” Shadow said. Shade tried to push him away but he was not having it. “I’m not going to watch my tongue around my kids.”

“You’re going to cuss around that boy?” Vigil said.

“Yeah, probably every day knowing me.”

“Don’t you think that unhealthy?”

“Not at all,” Shadow said. Shade stepped forward. “I have a plan.”

“Well let’s hear it,” Hymnal said. “This ought to be good. Tell me why you get to cuss in front of my grandson.”

“Well, I am an adult.”

“Setting a poor example,” Hymnal said.

“False,” Shade said. “He will have to learn that some behavior is appropriate at a certain age and not at another. We will use my cussing to teach him that adults get to do things and say things that children do not. When he gets older I will use it to teach him that in some cases some behavior is appropriate and in some cases it is not.”

“What?” Hymnal said.

“He will learn that it is fine to cuss around his friends. But not his teachers. That is an authority figure and they deserve respect. He will learn that when he is in the room with a group of guys, I don’t give a shit how he talks but when in mixed company I demand respectful language. That will carry into everything else.”

Hymnal crossed her arms. Vigil leaned forward.

“How do you mean?” he asked.

“Well if he learns that he can talk a certain way around certain people but not all people then we can apply that to how he acts when and where. When he is in a church, he will learn that it is not appropriate to be loud. But on the front yard it is. He will learn that there will be times when fighting is appropriate but not all times.”

“Fighting is not appropriate at all ever,” Hymnal said but she said it low enough that Shade could ignore it.

“As I curse in my son’s life I will teach him that his behavior needs to change to fit the circumstance. That there are codes of conduct for certain situations. But the most important thing I will teach him is that his father is not a hypocrite. That he has always cursed and he always will. It is part of his background. It is part of who his father is and he will not apologize for it to anyone.”

Vigil leaned back and stared at me for a few seconds. He turned to Hymnal and Shadow leaned forward.

“How about you?” he said pointing a finger at them. “What kind of grandparents are you going to be to my son? What can I expect from you?”

In 2007 we moved to Milwaukee. We lived in a duplex downstairs from our land lady and lord and they became essential pieces of our family. Mentor and Marigold were with us all the time. They taught us so much and Mentor was a true father to me. He remains an integral part of my life and I have no idea what I would do without him.

One day when Rayph was about one he was playing with his toys, crawling around with a car in his hand driving it across Morgan’s big belly.

“Rayph, come see daddy,” I said.

Nothing.

“Rayph, come see daddy. Come on, Rayph, come see daddy. Get over here, buddy. Come see daddy.”

Bekah held her hand out. “What do you want?” she asked.

“I want him to come get a hug.”

“He is playing, leave him alone. Let him play. If you have a good reason, then yeah, but if you just want a hug, let him be.”

“This is important. He needs to come when I call him. Rayph, come see daddy. Rayph, come on buddy.” Rayph turned around and looked at me. “Come see daddy.” Shade held his hands out and Rayph crawled over. When he got to Shade he got a big hug. Then Shade told him to go play.

Bekah scoffed but said nothing.

It was two years later when the ball rolled out into the street between two cars. Rayph went running after it and Mentor and Marigold and Bekah all gasped.

The car was not far from the ball and the driver did not see that ball. They for sure did not see the toddler running out to get that ball. Rayph was about to get hit by a car and no one was close enough to stop him.

“No! No! No! Rayph, don’t!” erupted from every mouth. Bekah’s face was drawn in long lines of horror.

“Rayph, come see daddy,” Shade said. He said it calmly. He said it firmly.

Mid-run Rayph stopped. He turned on a dime and ran to Shade.

Everyone burst into tears. Shade had arrived as a father.

From that moment on, Bekah trusted his instincts.

We had a boy.

That boy had a father.

He had a few of them.


This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.

Vol. 1: Teardrop Road is available now on Amazon.

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